Government will implement NRC on priority: President Kovind
President Ram Nath Kovind unequivocally relayed Narendra Modi government’s commitment to implement the Natonal Register of Citizens “on a priority in areas where the problem of illegal immigrants is rampant” while MPs from Assam and West Bengal listened to his maiden address made to the joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday .
President underlined that the government not only sees infiltration as a cause of “social imbalance” but also a threat to “limited livelihood opportunities.” The government, he said will further strengthen “security along the border” to prevent infiltration.
Government’s push comes a couple of days before the office of the National Register of Citizens is likely to put out a list of people whose names were included in the final draft NRC but were found ineligible on verification. Around 4,007,707 people could not make it to the draft list released late last year. The final list is likely to be put out on July 31 this year.
While NRC is being implemented in Assam, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has resisted BJP’s demand for its implementation there. The issue of “infiltrators from Bangladesh” was one of the key political flash points between the ruling TMC and the BJP during the Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP as recently as Wednesday, accused Mamata Banerjee of allowing infiltration in Bengal and systemically turning them into voters, indicating no let up in the pressure saffron party has built on the state government over the issue.
BJP has promised to get the NRC process rolling in Bengal if the party comes to power; while Mamata Banerjee has promised to never allow the roll out of a programme, which she claims was aimed “to throw out Bengalis and Biharis from Assam.” She had wanted to know, “What will happen, if they want to push them back and if Bangladesh does not want to take them back?
President Kovind stating government’s steadfast commitment to NRC is a reminder of the political battle that looms over this contentious issue; and it is not just Bengal, but the whole of the North East including Assam that may witness the repercussions, as he outlined government’s intention to also amend a related law-- the Citizenship Act.
“While on the one hand, Government is working to identify the infiltrators, on the other, it is also fully committed to protecting the victims of persecution due to their faith. In this regard, efforts will be made to amend the Citizenship Act while protecting the linguistic, cultural and social identities.”
Narendra Modi government had to put it on hold before Lok Sabha polls due to widespread protests against the proposed amendment.